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Collection Tier:
Tier 2

Clothing and Accessories
Women's Clothing
Sportswear
Uniforms ➔ Sports Uniform

Identifier:
196471
Description:
This uniform is from the Grand Rapids Chicks which was a female baseball team that operated from 1945 to 1954. The team was based in Grand Rapids, Michigan and played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. They won championship titles in 1947 and 1953.

This uniform is made of red cotton and has a patch at the center front that reads "City of Grand Rapids, Mich, Motu Viguet". It also has an All-American Girls Baseball League patch on the proper left sleeve. The uniform is trimmed in blue and white and the matching belt is white with a brass buckle. It also has the number 18 on the back in white. This uniform was worn as a replacement in 1954 after a fire at Bigelow Field in Grand Rapids destroyed their uniforms and equipment. 
Date:
1954
Materials:
Cotton Twill
Current Location Status:
In Storage
Source:
Gift Of Marilyn Jenkins
Links:
https://sketchfab.com/3d-models/rock-19221-84563b40a7784abc9fee8722100adbe2
Exhibits/Programs
100 Years of Design (June 8 2016)
Museum School students selected artifacts from the collection, researched them, and then designed what they believe they will look like 100 years from now.

Virtual Scavenger Hunt (April 2020)
Use this scavenger hunt to learn how to navigate the GRPM Digital Collections and explore some of its unique objects!
Makers/Donors
Marilyn Jenkins

Grand Rapids Chicks

The Grand Rapids Chicks were a baseball team that played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The team was originally known as the Milwaukee Chicks and was located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1944. Due to low ticket sales, they moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1945 and became the Grand Rapids Chicks. They claimed their first championship title in 1947 and the second in 1953. The league folded in 1954 and was the only team to make the playoffs every year. 



All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
During World War II, great numbers of young men were being drafted into the armed services leaving managers, owners and fans at Major League Baseball parks across the United States concerned. In danger of low attendance and lack of quality players, a girls’ softball league called the All-American Girls Softball (later Baseball) Professional League (AAGBBL) was formed to provide a solution. The League emerged in the spring of 1943 and continued until 1954.

Although by this time, women were participating in a variety of sports such as swimming, figure skating and cycling, baseball was considered a masculine pursuit. The AAGBBL maintained this traditional stance, recruiting women who were exceptional athletes, but insisting that they act as feminine as possible. For the first three years they attended charm school and required lipstick and hair be styled while on the field. They also were not allowed to smoke or drink in public and required a team chaperone. The AAGBBL uniform was also particularly feminine in its original long-skirt design. GRPM photos show that the skirt was shortened by the athletes who sometimes pinned or hemmed their uniforms to enable better mobility and speed on the field. The long skirt was not functional, but the short one also had its challenges. Despite these limitations, the AAGBBL athletes played strong and hard, breaking records and earning national recognition.

In Midwest communities such as Grand Rapids, Michigan, home to the AAGBBL team the Grand Rapids Chicks, the sport was immensely popular. Supported by leading business persons as spectator entertainment that was based on high moral and professional standards, the games attracted a diverse audience that appealed to all ages, classes and both sexes. The game was embraced as great family entertainment.

Due to a declining fan base and lack of financial support resulting from the changing post-WWII society, the League was forced to disband in 1954. During its 12-year history, over 600 young girls had an opportunity to play baseball for the AAGBBL at a professional level never seen before. The players had opportunities to develop their athletic skills, gain independence, travel, form long-lasting friendships and be role models for young women - all while getting paid to do it! The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League represents a unique aspect of the nation’s baseball history that changed the sport, but also the lives of women.

Works Cited:

“All-American Girls Baseball League, Archival Collection” #66 Finding Aid, Grand Rapids Public Museum Collections. 2004. Print

“League History ”Official Website of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Web. Accessed 8 June 2014.  <http://www.aagpbl.org/index.cfm/pages/league/12/league-history>

Jim Riekse (WZZM-TV 13). “The Girls of Summer”. Public Museum of Grand Rapids Magazine, Summer 1994. Print.

Related Place
Grand Rapids
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